Sunday, October 3, 2010

Managers are from Mars, Leaders are from...

It's time for a true story!

I was speaking with a colleague about a stressful situation at her workplace. When the chips were down and the entire team was about to implode, the manager stepped in and said, "Don't worry...if Department A didn't get us everything we need, then do what you can and I'll let them know what they'll be getting and when and why."

This served to calm the jangled nerves of the team and the project got done. (Well, as done as it could be without info from Department A.)

As my colleague talked, I suddenly realized why this didn't satisfy me at *all.*

I do mentoring for young artists periodically. The project we work on gives them a published credit, and I get to acquaint them with "real world" issues like deadlines, understanding and accepting editorial guidance/critical feedback.

One of the things I do when I welcome new people into the project is send them a timeline of requirements AND an explanation of 1) Why those deadlines will come up much faster than anticipated and; 2) Which excuses for missing those deadlines will be accepted and which ones will not.

In the case of the project above, the supervisor did a fine job managing. She saw her team about to crack, stepped in, rewrote criteria and timelines and smoothed over rough edges. But, I thought, how much better might it have been if she had set those criteria *ahead of time?*

A Leader looks at the bigger picture first, anticipates the most obvious flaws (not getting input from another department on time has *got* to be an obvious issue to anyone who has ever worked on anything in any company) and sets expectations. Taking into account that the critical information one needs might never arrive is the sign of a good Leader. Having contingency plans is the sign of a good Leader.

A Manager manages a crisis, a Leader anticipates one.

In terms of your Social Media presence, be your own Leader. Understand that "being out there" means sticking your neck out, too. Someone, somewhere may have a grudge, an issue, a complaint. Anticipate this. Don't be taken by surprise when all of a sudden there seems to be a rise in "you suck" messages. Take a deep breath and implement the plan you came up with for cases just like these. Is there a genuine issue that needs to be addressed? Address it; quickly, politely. Is this a disagreement of philosophical sorts? Apologize for any impoliteness/insult, state your position clearly and then DO NOT ENGAGE further. Let the rage wear itself out.

You can Manage your Social Media Presence, or your can Lead people to see *your* vision of the future. It's entirely up to you which you'd rather be.
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